Area residents voices haven't been heard in Bon Air School decision
August 17, 2021
On May 27,2021, a meeting of the Bon Air community was held. In attendance were State Senator Wayne Fontana, State Representative Jessica Benham and Councilman Anthony Coghill. There was no one representing the Pittsburgh School Board.
After Gregory Development’s owner gave his presentation about converting Bon Air Elementary School into apartments consisting of six to 12 units and possibly adding a third floor, the residents had their chance to voice their concerns. Many people spoke up. All were not in favor of this plan including Councilman Coghill and Representative Benham regarding an apartment conversion. Many residents wanted the building to be taken down and made into a green space.
The Pittsburgh School Board approved the sale of the Bon Air school on April 29, 2021 without any input from the Bon Air community. The school board was fully aware that there was insufficient parking available and this would be an obstacle to any reuse of the building unless the parking issue could be resolved.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Ms. Benham and Mr. Coghill stated they would support whatever the community wanted. The school board took it upon themselves to approve the sale of Bon Air School to Gregory Development for $55,000 without any of the major issues being resolved and without Bon Air residents’ concerns being addressed. The question that now comes to mind is where does the Pittsburgh School Board have the authority to dictate what a community should or should not have?
If the developer wants to turn vacant schools into apartments like they did at South High School, then they ought to inquire about the vacant Knoxville Junior High on Charles Street. It has all the facilities: a gym, a pool, a court, a parking lot and a lot of space. It could be used for apartments, a community center, a senior center, voting and much more. The bus stops are right in front of the junior high in both directions.
The residents of Bon Air have spoken, not let us see what action the Mayor’s Office or the Chief Executive Officer, Rich Fitzgerald, do about this situation. Evidently, no one else’s voices were ever heard.
Richard R. King
Frank C. Bernardini
The letter was signed by three additional residents.